The Birdsville Track is a notable outback road in Australia. The 517 kilometres track runs between Birdsville in south-western Queensland and Marree, a small town in the north-eastern part of South Australia. It traverses three deserts along the route, the Strzelecki Desert, Sturt Stony Desert and Tirari Desert.
Originally the track was of poor quality and suitable for high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicles only, but it is now a graded dirt road and a popular tourist route. It is also used by cattle trucks carrying livestock. The track passes through one of the driest parts of Australia with an average rainfall of less than 100 mm annually.The area is extremely barren, dry and isolated, and travellers should carry water and supplies in case of emergencies.
Up until the 1930s only stock and camel trains would take the Birdsville track. Nowadays it has become a very popular track. As a result, the track is maintained but like any outback track, its condition can change, especially after rain. Large stretches of the track can still be destroyed by flash flooding and drifting sand.In dry conditions a shorter route at the northern end depicted on maps as the “Inside track” saves 35 kilometres in distance. Other than this, the road has no major intersections.
Fuel, supplies and facilities, including a hotel, can be found on the track at the Mungeraniestation, 204 km from Marree and 313 km from Birdsville.
Soon after Birdsville the boys entered South Australia and had to change their watches again because South Australia has a different time zone.
Team Lipstick realised soon that indeed the road is not in good shape and with about 200km to go through this land with lots of nothing – the back-right hand tyre burst with a bang….
So, the boys were again without a spare tyre but a check on the Garmin showed them a motel which would be some 80 km away and along the road – the Mungeranie Hotel.
On arrival there (travelling with very low speed) they met the owner who was very friendly and showed the tyres which he has in stock – Lipstick would need 285/75/R16, but he only had the 285/70/R16 which would mean a tyre some 5cm smaller in Diameter. Knowing that a smaller tyre would put a lot of strain on Lipstick’s differential the boys decided to rather risk the remaining distance and the hotel owner even phoned a cattle farmer some further 110km down the track to enquire whether he would have the right size tyre in stock and he confirmed that team Lipstick could come in to change to a tyre which he has available..
On passing the farmhouse where a tyre could be obtained and realising that its only another 84 km to Marree the boys decided that they would take the risk and drive carefully towards Marree in order not to waste time – the important semi-final between South Africa and Wales could not be missed.
Marree (formerly Hergott Springs) is a small town located in the north of South Australia. It lies 589 kilometres North of Adelaide at the junction of the Oodnadatta Track and the Birdsville Track, 49 metres above sea level.
Marree is an important service centre for the large sheep and cattle stations in northeast South Australia as well as a stopover destination for tourists traveling along the Birdsville or Oodnadatta Tracks.
The town of Marree has a population of approximately 150 persons.The major areas of employment are mining, agriculture and accommodation services.
The town was home to Australia’s first mosque, which was made of mud brick and built by the Afghan cameleers employed at Marree’s inception. At the turn of the 20th century the town was divided in two, with Europeans on one side and Afghans and Aborigines on the other.
The first European to explore the area was Edward John Eyre, who passed through in 1840. In 1859, explorer John McDouall Stuart visited the area, and his Germanbotanist Herrgott discovered the springs which Stuart named after him.
Initially the area was known as Herrgott Springs but when the town was surveyed in 1883 4 km South of the springs in preparation for the coming of the railway it was given the name Marree.
Team Lipstick made it and arrived at the one and only place of rest in Marree the Marree Hotel.
More than just a Hotel. Built in 1883, this Award-Winning hotel has 28 superior ensuite cabins, 12 original hotel rooms and a large area to park your van or camp – free.
In the bar the boys met another South African – Danie Snyman who emigrated some years ago to Australia and who does electrical maintenance around the outback areas.